This post is part show and tell, part discussion question raised by the song and video above. I directed the piece for an artist I’ve worked with before, and was excited to find the response from the generally picky, grumbly internet was 99% positive.
A small number of people who hear it though instantly dislike it. “That’s not ‘Pathetic’!”, “It’s too slow!,” “I can barely tell what song that is!,” and my favorite, “Great. Now we’re doing Coldplay covers of Blink 182?” More than one fan pointed me to Great Glass Elevator’s cover as the better version:
I can see how it definitely sounds more like the original – mostly because they kept the same vocal phrasing – but how on Earth could you prefer it? The production is Casio keyboard level and the vocals aren’t much better. There’s no added depth or flavor, it’s literally just slowed down. In fact, the only standard by which it seems “better” is that it’s “similar,” but in that case, why not listen to the original instead of the kinda, sorta slower one?
To wit: isn’t deconstruction, manipulation and mutation of the original the point of doing a cover? In an era of media that is taken to task for being too derivative, we should be celebrating the re-examination of pop-art through a highly personal, specific lens. It’s the difference between a bad remake of a film and a good one: does the director connect with the material in a unique way? No one (well, almost no one) would argue that Gus Van Sant’s Psycho or John Moore’s The Omen are strong films because they are almost a shot for shot remakes. John Carpenter’s The Thing is considered the definitive take on the concept because he brought his sense for creeping, claustrophobic horror to what was, in a past life, just a silly monster movie. It’s why I’d love to see David Lynch tackle a Nightmare on Elm Street film – it might not even have Freddy Krueger, but no one is better at creating nightmares on film than Lynch and he would present a fascinating personal vision of the series’ themes and ideas.
Anyway, I digress. I realize this might be coming across as a knee jerk defense to a minor criticism, but I really find the differing opinions interesting. What say you all? Is this how you like to hear songs covered, or do you prefer less abstract, more straightforward versions?
Oh, and if you do like the track, you can download it for FREE right here.
Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |